The San Francisco 49ers rookie punter has had his struggles this season, and given that he was a fifth round pick, people are not pleased. Bradley Pinion is averaging a gross of 43.5 yards per punt, and a net of 39.9. The former is good for 28th in the NFL, while the latter is good for 21st.
For those concerned about the punting, the 49ers could find themselves an undrafted free agent if need be! This video emerged over the weekend, showing an orca booting a seal 80 feet in the air. That's only 26 yards, but considering he really wasn't even properly set like a punter, I'd say that's impressive. And with a little work on technique, the 49ers might have themselves a decent punter!
But seriously, Pinion is not having a great rookie year, but there is some context, at least in 49ers history. This season, former 49ers punter Andy Lee ranks third in gross punting average, and fifth in net punting average. However, in his own rookie season, Lee ranked 22nd in each of those categories, averaging 41.6 gross and 36.9 net. This is not to say Pinion will figure it all out and become another Andy Lee, but I think it is worth taking a step back and taking a deep breath. The 49ers spent a fifth on Pinion after having spent a sixth on Lee. We'll see if this shakes out any better.
Fooch's update: It is also worth noting that Pinion is tied for third in the NFL in touchback percentage on kickoffs. As he is handling both kickoffs and punts, that is important to consider.